Is your smartphone addiction killing you? Not exactly, says a new survey by AIA Singapore, but Singaporeans’ fixation on digital screens can adversely affect not only their health but their children’s well-being as well.

According to AIA’s 2016 Healthy Living Index Survey, Singapore remains one of the most digitally engaged countries across the region, with Singaporeans spending an average of 3.7 hours online per day on nonwork usage, much higher than the regional average of 3 hours. The survey revealed that Singaporeans need to spend less time on their screens and more time on the move in order to become fitter and healthier. Singapore ranked 9th among 15 countries, with a healthy living index score well below the regional average.

Singaporeans are also less satisfied with their own health as compared to others in the region. Approximately 7 in 10 (67%) in Singapore find it hard to break the habit
of spending a lot of time in front of screens. In fact, more than 6 in 10 (62%) adults admit that they are addicted to social networking and the internet.

This is despite knowing that they should spend less time online as the prolonged online time affects their posture (69%), prevents them from getting adequate exercise
(69%) and prevents them from getting sufficient sleep (69%).

But before you swear off your smartphone altogether, know that there’s hope yet for those who are too attached to their screens.

Using tech for fitness

Digital devices are also recognised as a useful tool for healthy living. 64% of Singaporeans find that digital devices such as the internet or mobile phones are useful to help them keep track of their progress and stay motivated to exercise, higher than regional average of 60%. In addition, 74% of Singaporeans rely on the internet for information and advice on healthy food, higher than the regional average of 67%.

“As we move towards being a Smart Nation, it is imperative for us to also leverage technology to improve our health as a nation. We see that Singaporeans increasingly recognise the power of digital to help them take charge of their health. They also welcome help to set health goals and monitor their progress,” Ms Ho Lee Yen, Chief Marketing Officer of AIA Singapore notes.

Using technology to boost health is a driving force behind AIA Vitality, the first-inmarket science-backed wellness proposition provides participants with the knowledge, tools and motivation to help them take small steps to achieve their personal health goals. AIA Vitality works in three simple steps: First, know your health; second, improve your health; and third, enjoy your rewards.

Digital health plays a central role with fitness devices linking directly to the AIA Vitality program enabling customers to earn meaningful rewards by being active. “We look forward to helping more Singaporeans live healthier and better lives with AIA Vitality,” Ms Ho says.

Like parent, like child

And if you think that an unhealthy digital lifestyle only affects adults, think again: The study also discovered that a cause for concern in Singapore is that the unhealthy
choices made by parents are influencing their children. “Adults’ unhealthy lifestyle habits are rubbing off on our children.

Therefore, it is important for families to make a collective effort to stay healthy together,” says Ms Ho. Parents’ excessive screen time and corresponding impact on their health are also reflected in their children’s lifestyles. Approximately 7 in 10 (67%) parents in Singapore acknowledge that their children do not get enough exercise. Reasons that their children are not exercising include spending too much time online (43%) and spending too much time playing video games (33%), both higher than
regional average.

Parents who rate their own health more positively tend to be more satisfied with their children’s health. On average, they rate their children’s health 7.7 out of 10, compared to only 6.3 among parents who are less satisfied with their own health.

Committed to the health and well-being of Singaporeans and their families, AIA Singapore has been actively introducing health-centric, family-friendly initiatives such as The Music RunTM by AIA and the AIA stadium at KidZania Singapore.

“Beyond government initiatives such as the Nurture SG task force and the push towards becoming a car-lite Singapore, we need to create an environment and mindset that is conducive for families in Singapore to lead healthier lifestyles together,” Ms Ho says